The Q&A Archives: Fertilizing Cactus

Question: I have an assortment of cacti in a Southwestern display type pot and would like to know the proper fertilizer mixture for the cacti.

Answer: Plants growing in containers need special attention when it comes to feeding; new potting soil will have enough nutrients to get most plants by for a period of about two months. Cacti can go for extended lengths of time without feeding, which is often the case when grown as a pot specimen where rapid growth is not desired. However, if you want your cacti to grow quickly you can feed in the spring when the plant is actively growing. Use a complete fertilizer, such as an 8-8-8, diluted according to label directions. The first number, nitrogen, encourages green growth, the next number, phosphorous, encourages blossoming, and the third number, potassium, helps the plant develop a healthy root system. It's important not to overfeed cacti or try to inspire exceptional growth. Doing so may set the stage for collapse of the plant tissues!

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